Oil rig blast leaves behind 'serious' spill

  • Updated: April 25, 2010 - 3:58 PM

NEW ORLEANS - The Coast Guard discovered Saturday that oil is leaking from the damaged well that fed a massive rig that exploded last week off Louisiana's coast, while bad weather halted efforts to clean up the mess that threatens the area's fragile marine ecosystem.

Rear Adm. Mary Landry said the leak could have begun when the rig sank on Thursday, two days after the initial explosion. "This is a very serious spill, absolutely," Landry said.

Coast Guard and company officials estimate that as much as 1,000 barrels of oil is escaping each day. A sheen of oil stretched 20 miles wide and long on Saturday -- about 25 times larger than it appeared to be a day earlier, Landry said.

The rig may have had as much as 700,000 gallons of diesel on board.

BP, which leased the rig and is taking the lead in the cleanup, said it has activated an extensive oil spill response, including remotely operated vehicles to assess the well and 32 vessels to mop up the spill.

The Marine Spill Response Corp., an energy industry cleanup consortium, also brought equipment.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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